One of the most loved playback singers in Bollywood, Sonu Nigam has been consistent in churning out tuneful tracks for the last 20 years. In the city on Sunday, the singer had the audience rooting for more at the Parade Ground, Sector 17, Chandigarh, where other singers also performed for the music event Bollyboom, which presented a fusion of Bollywood and electro music. Post the performance, he engaged in a telling conversation about the lesser known facets of his personality.
That the mild-mannered and soft-spoken singer has strong opinions has been apparent ever since Sonu has been in the news for standing up for the rights of Indian musicians by seeking royalties on the songs sung by them, just like their western counterparts. "I suppose you could say that I belled the cat," laughs the singer, adding, "Indian producers are so egotistical; contracts are pre-dated and music production companies distort copyright laws. But, I am happy that other artists are putting their foot down too now."
Having belted out numerous hits Sandese Aate Hain (from the film Border), Yeh Dil Deewana (Pardes) and the title song of the film Kal Ho Naa Ho, the National Award winning Faridabad-born singer had also churned out some independent music albums. Also known for promoting independent music scene in the country, Sonu believes that the reason that Bollywood music reigns supreme is corporatisation of the Hindi film industry, something he believes will change with the growing interest in non-film related music. "I must add though that the independent music scene in Punjab is actually quite good. It's heartening to see how artists are treated with so much respect here. Bollywood could learn a thing or two from them," says the man who has also dabbled in acting, radio and voice-overs as a dubbing artist.
A supporter of various charities, Sonu believes those who work for a cause should do it silently. "Why should people shout out from their rooftops about doing charity work? Do the work but don't trumpet about it," he says. The artist who believes in always looking ahead says his mantra in life is to never look back in order to keep one's style fresh. "Jo kar diya who kar diya; always look forward," says he.
Even though Sonu didn't quite make it as an actor, he is known for being an excellent mimic. The singer says this particular talent stems from his penchant to observe people. But, on second thoughts, he wants to focus the lens on himself now. "I should probably observe myself a little more now," he smiles. A big fan of the sci-fi genre, you can expect to see him at a theatre showing a superhero film, whistling and standing up to clap just like any other fan would. Wishing Bollywood catches up on the genre, he says, "We've have sophisticated levels of production wherein the special effects in our films are at par with Hollywood. We just need to improve on the story line bit," he adds with a laugh.